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Monday, December 22, 2014

The Year End Best...Top 10 Transit Systems


A lot of wheelchair users can't or won't drive so it's nice to have some accessible way to get around when you're traveling that doesn't require you to transfer out of your chair. It's also nice for able-bodied people who just don't want to be bothered with driving while on vacation...like me, for instance.

Here are the best transit systems we've encountered on our travels, in no particular order.



London, England - While not 100% accessible, a good number of stations at key spots make the Underground a good travel option for wheelchairs. Always pay attention to the gap (the difference in height between the platform and the floor of the train), which can range from nothing up to 12 inches. The accessible tube map available at each station lists the gap of each station on the back. The London bus system is completely accessible (save for two redundant lines that use older, historic double deckers) and all taxis must be wheelchair accessible by law.



San Francisco, California - The most Eastern (in culture and vibe, anyway) of the West Coast cities, San Francisco has a pretty extensive trolley and bus system in the Muni. While all buses are accessible, only about half of the trolley stations are. The historical streetcars on Market Street are accessible but the cable cars are not. BART, the regional subway, is 100% accessible.



Los Angeles, California - Although I never thought I'd say this, our hometown has developed a pretty extensive, 100% accessible rail network over the last couple of decades. Six light rail and subway lines run across the region from Long Beach in the south, Pasadena (soon to be Azusa) in the east, North Hollywood in the north, and Culver City in the west. Several Metrolink train lines also link such far-flung locales as Oxnard, Oceanside, Lancaster, San Bernardino, and Riverside with all those other rail lines at Union Station downtown. The weak link is the bus system that, although 100% accessible, is run by over a dozen operators with different fares and policies creating much confusion.



Chicago, Illinois - The El system here, although only about 50% accessible, at least has it's accessible stations at key points such as the airports, the stadiums, and strategic locations in the Loop. It's also nice that they have heaters on the platforms for those bitterly cold Chicago winters.



Munich, Germany - An incredibly extensive subway system (U-Bahn for the city and S-Bahn for beyond that is very close to 100% accessible and run with great German efficiency. Not much need for buses here but where they are, they are also 100% accessible. Only the older street-tram system is not...it's maybe 75% accessible.



Boston, Massachusetts - Like Chicago, the T in Boston is only about half-accessible but at least it's the key points you'll want to go to that are.



Minneapolis, Minnesota - Some cities don't have a lot of transportation but, what they do, goes just about anywhere you want to go. Such as it is with Minneapolis, with its 100% acccessible Hiawatha light rail line that runs from the home of the Twins...Target Field...in the north to the Mall of America in the south and all the great points in between.



Denver, Colorado - Six, 100% accessible light rail lines serve the mile high city. Since there's so much beer to drink here, that comes in very handy. The newest served Golden to the west, almost to the massive Coors factory.



Seattle, Washington - A burgeoning light rail system, running from the airport to downtown, supplements a great bus system. Free fare in the downtown zone and 100% accessible.



Sacramento, California - The Capitol City's light rail system is 100% accessible and is great for exploring the sights of the fun city. We also like to use it to go the eastern terminus at Folsom for drinks and dinner at the beautifully restored Old Town. Downside is that the system shuts down early.

NOTE: Why not New York? I'd love to include the vast subway system of the Big Apple but only a very small fraction of the stations there are accessible.



Darryl
Copyright 2014 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Sunday, December 21, 2014

THE COCKTAIL HOUR: Ales for the Holidays

Pictured above are the two ales we're tasting today.

On the left is Trader Joe's 2010 Vintage Ale.  Each year the popular grocery store chain commissions a new ale for the holidays.  This year's version is a Belgian style brown ale produced by Unibroue in Canada.

To the right is Zoetzuur, a Flemish sour ale. You've really got to have a taste for this type of Belgian ale. Letty does. She loves them and wishes they were more widely available here in the states. I don't. I'm trying to develop a taste but so far the varieties I've tried are either cloyingly sweet (like Framboise) or tastes like vinegar.
Watch the Video!

Zoetzuur is brewed by De Proefbrouweri in Lochristi-Hijfte, Belgium.  It's a small town near the Dutch border, north of Gent.  The ale clocks in at 7% alcohol and is served in a cork top bottle.  It's head foams up about an inch and has a lighter golden brown color.

For taste, it's a little off.  True, I'm not a sour ale afficiandao, but Letty is and she agrees.  There's a quick taste of, what I think of as, grape soda.  Letty does not taste that but we both agree that there's an off-smell and taste.  Kind of like a skunky beer but different.  Something that we went back and forth on as to what exactly it was.  We ended up agreeing that it is the smell and taste of a horse farm. 

At $10.99 for a 750 ml bottle, it's just not worth the price.  Letty is still looking for a good, sour ale that she can get on a regular basis.  Rodenbach is one of her favorites but hard to find and the Bruery supposedly makes one of the finest sours around but they ran out and it will be over a year (!) till their next batch is ready.

The Trader Joe's Vintage Ale 2010, on the other hand, continues the strong tradition of great ales released each holiday season.  It's a dark, dark beer but not heavy.  Extremely foamy like the time I used regular granulated sugar to ferment some homemade beer, the head grows very fast so you need to do a careful pour.

The taste is smooth, the ingredients very harmonious.  The bitterness just hits the back of your throat on it's way down the way a nice, cold Coke Classic does.  I like this beer quite a bit and at 9% alcohol content, it's no lightweight.  It's also a very good bargain at only $4.99 for a 750 ml corked bottle.  I'll be going back to buy a few more.

Cheers!

-Darryl

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Year-end Best...The Top 10 Hotels

The Buccaneer, St. Croix

Here are the best 10 hotels, inns, motels, etc., that we've ever stayed at. In no particular order, all are outstanding properties...


Ambassador Hotel - Milwaukee, Wisconsin - An art-deco jewel next to Marquette University near downtown. For a small upcharge, they include a very indulgent breakfast in the lobby restaurant. The rooms are very generous in size, up-to-date, and have some of the most comfortable bedding we've ever had. For an old, historic property, it's very nice to see modern accessible bathrooms in rooms that are not an afterthought or located in a dark, corner of the hotel. All of this would be moot, however, if the service wasn't good. Thankfully, the staff here is at the top of the game and very attentive to their guests needs and wants.


The Buccaneer - St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands - Another historic hotel and the best in the Caribbean. Incredible staff that will walk miles to make sure you're comfortable and having a good time. The accessible rooms are really suites with a bedroom, living room, two bathrooms, walk-in closet, and a large terrace overlooking the sea. The breakfast buffet will amaze you as you take in the morning beach views from the open air dining area. Only downside is it's hilly and tough to walk down to the beach along the steep slope. 


Riu Palace - Punta Cana, Dominican Republic - Part of a very large group of Riu properties on a mile of beachfront and hundreds of acres at the far eastern end of the island of Hispaniola. While the fully accessible rooms tend to be hidden in the back, a large selection of step-free rooms are available throughout the hotel. Oustanding beaches, endless pools, and all inclusive, what sets the Riu apart from it's competitors is an attitude of "if you're not happy, we're not happy and we'll do whatever it takes to change that." Best service we've ever had at any hotel in the world...period. You'll end up with life-long friends from the staff when you leave here.

Homewood Suites - Seattle, Washington - This Hilton property in the Queen Anne neighborhood is like most Homewood Suites...large, multiroom suites that are very comfortable...but, again, it's the service that sets it apart from the manager actually going the extra mile to get great local microbrews and locally inspired cuisine in the evening reception, providing detailed jogging maps and telling you where to stop to get the best breathtaking views, to procuring special needs products like bath chairs for your room. I wish every Hilton's staff could be as good as this one.


Shenandoah Inn - Plymouth, California - Mom and Pop motel in the Gold Country. Marie is the mom and Ken...a former Marine...is the pop and a friendlier mom and pop you'll be hard pressed to find. It's a basic motel but the rooms are clean, up-to-date, and comfortable. Each one comes with million-dollar views of the rolling hills of Amador County's wine country. The pool and jacuzzi...with a lift for the disabled...sit on a delightful patio with the same views, along with picnic tables and barbecue because you're gonna want to sit here with dinner, drink the bottle of wine you bought today, and watch the sun go down.  Just a beautiful, comfortable, friendly slice of  Heaven.


Mission Inn - Riverside, California - Another historic hotel in the heart of Southern California's Inland Empire.  Along with the gorgeous property, with it's endless hallways, pathways, nooks, and crannies to get lost in, you get impeccable service, larger than you thought rooms, great pool area (lift too), wonderful food and drink, and an ever-present feeling of being somewhere very historical.  It's also located smack dab in downtown Riverside where a large assortment of restaurants and shops lie just outside to tempt you. Across the street is the historic restored Fox Theater making this a great place to take in dinner, a show, and spend the night.


Drury Plaza at the Arch - St. Louis, Missouri - Drury Inns is a large, midwest based chain of hotels. We've never had a bad stay at any that we've been to but their flagship hotel in downtown St. Louis takes it to another level. Again, the rock is great service that's attentive to guests and makes them happy. Great, fully accessible rooms and suites. Very comfortable and plush.  Great location next to the Gateway Arch and the statehouse...just a few, easily walked blocks to Busch Stadium for those Cardinal games. And the freebies...oh, those freebies...Drury is the king of the free extras. Breakfast (darn good one, too), happy hour and light dinner, local calls, long distance calls, popcorn and soda...the list goes on of all the free stuff you get here included with your reasonable room rate.  An expansive lobby, complete with a large Lewis and Clark diorama fountain, provides a nice place to relax and the pool and gym upstairs will keep you in shape while you're here.

Village by the Sea - Wells, Maine - A hotel made up of condos, the rooms here are very large and very reasonable (but you must pay an upcharge to get the alcove with the washer and dryer unlocked in your room). Not quite on the beach but only separated from it by a wildlife preserve, the the views are outstanding. You won't find as much bang for your buck anywhere else downeast in Maine.

Best Western Station House Inn - South Lake Tahoe, California - This motel next to the stateline in Lake Tahoe not only has it's great service going for it but it has the best free breakfast we've ever had at a hotel. On the property is a nice restaurant where guests get to select from a menu of 7 great, full, and complete breakfasts, all served with a smile by the waiters at your table. The rooms are large with comfortable furniture but the ceilings are just a bit low. You can walk a block to the lower gondola of Heavenly Valley for skiing and another short block east to visit the casinos of Nevada. One of the world's most beautiful lakes lies only 100 yards away.


The Flamingo Inn - Santa Rosa, California - I can't believe the prices of the rooms here (but make sure you get a big enough room, some are pretty small). This resort is modeled after it's namesake in Las Vegas and looks just like a retro, 1950's Vegas hotel, sans the casino. The well kept-up building rings a large lawn and olympic size pool where a party atmosphere rules in the warmer months. An on-site nightclub can provide entertainment and the wineries of Napa Valley and Sonoma are less than 30 minutes away. Great staff and great, oldschool vibe. It's our go-to hotel for visits to Napa Valley.

Notice the one thing in common that ties all these hotels together...great service. It doesn't matter if you're a mom-and pop motel, a Caribbean island resort, or a corporate behemoth...provide great service and you can be a great hotel.




Darryl
Copyright 2014 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

ACCESSIBLE ATTRACTIONS: Minneapolis, Minnesota



Our ratings are...

Fully Accessible - You can access all of the attraction, with no problem, in any type of wheelchair.

Mostly Accessible - You can access most of the attraction, and all of the important parts of it, with your wheelchair.

Partially Accessible - You can access a good deal of the attraction but some parts are inaccessible and some important parts you'll miss.

Inaccessible - Kind of speaks for itself, avoid if you're in a wheelchair.

Here's Minneapolis, Minnesota...



Mall of America - Fully Accessible. It's a mall...that is all. Well, it's really big and has an amusement park in it but malls don't really float my boat.



Target Field - Fully Accessible. Right down to the Closed Captioning for the announcer. Great ball park.



Minnehaha Park - Fully Accessible. Beautiful waterfalls in a great park.



St. Croix River Cruise - Partially Accessible. Their website says "fully accessible" but it depends on the river water level, plus there are no accessible restrooms on board.



Mill Ruins Park - Mostly Accessible. Great place to see some of the city's historic flour mill ruins then walk across the Mississippi River to more accessible hiking paths on the other side.




Darryl
Copyright 2014 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Monday, December 15, 2014

The World on Wheels 2014 Gift Guide


Don't look at this post as a shameless plea for Amazon commissions, look at it as a curated gift giving guide for the modern wheelchair traveler about town.  Get free two day delivery with your Amazon Prime account. Don't have Amazon Prime? Click the link below to get a free 30-day trial.


Now, on to the list.



Luggage Scale - It's very tough to be a wheelchair traveler and only go with a carry on bag. We always end up having to check something and with airlines baggage restrictions on weight, it helps to know ahead of time if yours meets the criteria. We use this one that you simply hook through your bag's strap and lift up.  It's saved us a bunch of fees and repacking over the years.



Overnight Toiletries Bag - This foldable toiletries and cosmetics bag has really earned it's place in our travel gear setup. It goes everywhere with us. Unfolded, you can lay it on top of the clothes in your suitcase to save room. Folded, it makes a small carryon and holds a ton of stuff.  At the hotel, just unfold and hang on the bathroom coat hook with the built-in hanger. Great little bag, can't recommend it enough.



Universal Electric Adapter - Going by the commissions we receive from it, this is the most popular product I've recommended. International travel can be a pain if you want to be connected to your electronic gadgets and they don't fit that foreign power outlet. This adapter to the rescue. Small and very handy, it works like a charm for us.



Voltage Transformer - One of the problems with traveling with a power chair in a foreign country is charging the batteries with your American charger. Lester...the company that makes just about all of those chargers...will tell you your warranty is void and you'll burn out the charger if you don't use a proper voltage transformer (unless you get a dual voltage charger). This transformer, in conjunction with an adapter, will solve that problem.



Zip Off Cargo Pants - Sometimes, you just gotta go. Wheelchair users and their caregivers often need easy access to those areas of relief. While there are pants made especially for this purpose, they are expensive indeed. We've found these zip off cargo pants, with their zippers conveniently place mid-leg, are the perfect and reasonably priced solution.



Portable Urinal - Not to get too much TMI, but it can be a pain when you have to go in the middle of a trip and you don't have a handy bathroom. This unisex (it comes with a female adapter) urinal is shaped just right for people who have to sit in a chair. Don't leave home without it.

 
Kindle Fire HD - Need an easy to carry, powerful little tablet to stay in touch while on the road? Amazon's Kindle provides just what we need at an easy price and fits very well in a purse, carry on, or wheelchair backpack.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Darryl

Sunday, December 14, 2014

THE COCKTAIL HOUR: Ruby Margarita



It's a pleasant Sunday afternoon, temps in the 80s and edging toward 90, and I'm trying to think of something good to drink. Browsing the web, I see it's Nationa Tequila Day (last Sunday, July 24th).  Well...I must celebrate.


Watch the Video!

A little more browsing and I find an intriguing recipe...the Ruby Margarita.  It turns out very good, is only about 150 calories, and loaded with anti-oxidants so I can feel relaxed and good about myself during this afternoon's Cocktail Hour.


Here is the recipe...


INGREDIENTS (two drinks)


Juice of 2 medium limes (or 3 small limes)
3 oz. tequila
1 oz. agave syrup
1 oz. brandy
4 oz. pomegranite juice or cocktail


In a cocktail shaker half filled with ice, mix all ingredients. Pour pomegranite juice in last...fill to the top with it.  Strain into two ice filled highball or pint glasses.




Cheers!


-Darryl

Friday, December 12, 2014

Brothels, Casinos, and the Basque...House Hunting in Nevada's Carson Valley


Letty and I both grew up watching "Bonanza" in our childhood years. Who wouldn't want to live on the Ponderosa? Now, we're in the real-life location of that fictional ranch and one question bothers me...with Carson City being closer to their house, why did the Cartwright men spend so much time in farther-away Virginia City than in the closer, and bigger, state capitol.

This morning will be occupied by "business"...we're up here to investigate if it is a place we'd want to retire to. Specifically, we're looking at the area in the south end of the Carson Valley...around Gardnerville and Minden...to see if that's where we'd want to spend the rest of our lives after I retire.


Watch the Video!


The pros are good housing prices, low taxes, and country living are the draws.   We're playing house hunters, with three houses lined up to look at and see if we like what's in our price range.

House #1 on a 5 acre spread is too far back up towards Topaz Lake and has evidence of a large, recent wildfire on the hillside across the highway.

House #2 is nice, on a half-acre lot in Gardnerville near the country club but the street around it is not as nice.

House #3, across from the golf course club house looked good on paper but was pretty miserable in person.

Along with the 10-hour drive to see our families, pretty crushing traffice (due to only one main highway in the area) for a fairly rural area, a pretty desolate feel, and loss of California benefits for Tim, we decide to cross the Carson Valley off of our retirement list.

We'll pick that baton back up in a few days when we cross back over the mountains to our home state but, now, we're free agents...ready to explore the area as travelers.


Back up and around Carson City, we head over to Virginia City. Make sure you have a strong engine if you plan to take the shortest route up with a harrowing 15% grade. Easy parking is hard to find, so I relent and pay $6 to park in the Delta Saloon's (home of the "world famous suicide table") lot.


It's like Tombstone, set in the mountains. An old west town, where open-carry is a way of life (many of these costumed, and armed, men are also security guards at the local casinos so I don't know how many of these are props or real).


The hilly geography means wheelchairs are like rollercoasters on the undulating boardwalks. Tim has a few exciting moments where the wood meets the pavement.


It's chilly, so we retire to the Delta's casino with a cup of coffee an see the suicide table while feeding pennies to the slot machines.  After, we head down the street to enjoy some baked goods and the hundred mile view out behind the coffeehouse we're in.

A little window shopping later and we're heading down the hill.


Just for the heck of it, we drive through the Bunny Ranch brothel's parking lot to snap some photos and video (we're, by far, not the only ones).  I offer to drop Tim off and pick him up later but he declines...


While illegal in Vegas, brothels are legal in much of the rest of the state and several are out here east of the Capitol. Some innkeepers have told us of mild-mannered guests to their facilities who come up here just to tour these houses of ill repute.

Enough of that, after an afternoon break at the hotel, it's off to the "Biggest Little City In The World," Reno, to have some dinner.

While we could have a cheap spread at one of the local casinos, we opt instead for a delicious Basque meal in this Basque country.  The Santa Fe Hotel, an historic shepherd's boarding house that's surrounded on three sides by the massive Harrah's complex, will be the destination for tonight. We're a little early...the bar opens at 5, dinner is served at 6, and it's 4:30.


An hour is killed by going to a local pawn shop and then the Cal Neva casino at the end of the block where Tim wins $10 on the penny slots and $25 for me on the quarter machines.  Just enough to have a picon punch before dinner.

We strike up a nice, long conversation with the bartender at the Santa Fe (she's also a speech therapist so we have some common ground here and there) while waiting for the dining room to open.


The Santa Fe is a true, oldschool, Basque restaurant meaning that you don't get a table to yourself. We sit at a table made for at least eight wth a couple of gentlemen from the area joining us in a lively, talkative dinner of soup, salad, sausage, cheese, bread, wine, steaks, and fries.

It's an experience you won't get at a casino buffet and the price is not all that different.

Appetites sated, we say goodbye to our dinner companions, our new friends in the bar, and the city of Reno itself as we retire to the Homewood Suites to rest up for our drive over the Donner Pass tomorrow.


Darryl
Copyright 2014 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Photos by Letty Musick
Copyright 2014 - All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

ACCESSIBLE ATTRACTIONS: Denver and Colorado Springs, Colorado


Our ratings are...

Fully Accessible - You can access all of the attraction, with no problem, in any type of wheelchair.

Mostly Accessible - You can access most of the attraction, and all of the important parts of it, with your wheelchair.

Partially Accessible - You can access a good deal of the attraction but some parts are inaccessible and some important parts you'll miss.

Inaccessible - Kind of speaks for itself, avoid if you're in a wheelchair.

Here's Denver and, it's neighbor to the south, Colorado Springs...


Garden of the Gods: Mostly accessible. Great access at the visitor's centers and some wonderful, long, wheelchair accessible trails. Be sure to ask at the visitor's center for them to map out where the handicapped parking spaces are before driving into the park.


Seven Falls: Partially Accessible. Elevator up to a viewing platform mostly negates the fact that you will not be able to climb the stairs at the bottom of the falls.


17th Street Mall: Fully Accessible. Great place for a pub crawl in this famously beery city.


Coors Field: Fully Accessible.


Red Rocks Amphitheater: Mostly Accessible. Wheelchair seating in the first and last rows. When no show is on, a ramp gives access to the stage. Visitor's Center and trading post are fully accessible.


Denver Zoo: Fully Accessible.

Darryl
Copyright 2014 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Road Less Taken - L.A. to Reno via Highway 395


"It's one of the most scenic drives in California," I tell my son.

"When does the scenic part start?" he replies.

Can't say I blame him all that much as you have to drive through a lot of ex-urban, partially developed desert land that would be more suited for a role in "Breaking Bad," before you get to the good part.

Prisons, large subdivisions, and the roads that are ill-suited to so many newcomers pushing into these communities just on the other side of the Cajon Pass from San Bernardino put a damper on this part of the drive.

"Be patient, it will be scenic in awhile."

Watch the Video!

Gradually, the last of the gargantuan Southern California's metropolitan sprawl passes by and we get to a more empty desert scenery sprinkled with ghost towns and lonely gas stations serving as rest stops for weary travelers.

Once we climb the grade that separates the desert from Owens Valley at the appropriately named Little Lake, the scenery does change dramatically.

The mighty Sierra Nevadas line our left side view. It's not long before we pull over for a restroom break at Lone Pine to take a gander at snow and cloud draped Mt Whitney in the distance (see picture at the top of this post).


Still, my jaded son is going "I've seen mountains and desert before."

Oh well, you just can't please all the city lovers sometimes.

Soon, I'm pointing out historical points that my wife is slightly more interested in than Tim.

"There's the courthouse where they tried Charles Manson (in Independence)...John Wayne stayed at that hotel while shooting westerns in those rocks to the left...that mound on the left is a mass grave for earthquake victims...(and, most poignantly of all) that big, green building is all that's left of Manzinar."

Tim perks up a bit when we stop at Jack's Restaurant in Bishop...which will always be Jack's Waffle Shop to me...where it was a mandatory meal any time we drove up to Mammoth in my skiing days.


Bishop also marks the point, about 3/5 of the way to our destination, where I need to fill the gas tank again so we stop at the Paiute Casino and gas stop at the end of town where my wife also buys some Indian fry break being cooked up in a little trailer in the parking lot.

Back on the road, we soon pass the aforementioned Mammoth Mountain, covered in a fat snow-filled cloud (hope it's a good season for them), then climb over Sherwin Summit at over 8,000 feet to get to Mammoth's sister resort of June Lake. 



Lee Vining and Mono Lake are next. Every time I drive through here, I think of Clint Eastwood's "High Plains Drifter," which was filmed along the shore.

Bridgeport is next, a town that gets so snowbound in winter that it'd make you think you're in Montana rather than California, with it's gas prices more than a dollar a gallon higher than what we paid in Bishop.  It gets so cold here that the Marines use it for cold weather warfare training at the Mountain Warfare Training Center located nearby.

Through the Walker River Canyon, where a tragic bus accident happened years ago and 3 airborne firefighters are memorialized with dozens of t-shirts and a roadside plaque near the spot where their C-130 tanker crashed fighting a blaze.

After this beautiful but sad canyon drive, Topaz Lake marks the state line with the ubiquitous casino. Down a hill, Gardnerville and Menden mark our entrance to Nevada's Carson Valley and our ultimate destination while we're here to take a look and see if we might want to retire here.


That's for tomorrow, though, as we continue north...maddeningly...along the highway as the governments here have decided to throw up an unsynchronized signal every now and then, turning a half hour drive into an hour plus when we finally reach our hotel in Reno, across the street from the Harrah estate.

It's been a long, nearly 10 hour drive but you can see the whole thing compressed into 6 minutes in the video above. For now, we'll turn in to our room at the Homewood Suites and continue this house hunters thing in the morning.

Darryl
Copyright 2014 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved
Photos by Letty Musick
Copyright 2014 - All Rights Reserved

Sunday, December 7, 2014

THE COCKTAIL HOUR - Paso Robles Beer Tasting


Last week, we tasted the wines. This week, it's something else altogether. While the Paso Robles area is justifiably famous for its vineyards, wineries, and wine, one of America's most popular microbreweries resides here.  Firestone Walker, makers of the Double Barrel Ale (DBA) has a decent sized operation south of town.

They also have a restaurant to the south in Buellton, but we're just here to taste the beers.


Watch the Video!

Here at the brewery, they have a nice tasting room with 14 taps (just installed the day before we were here). For $6 you can taste 4 of their brews.

 

We taste the DBA, Solace...a wheat beer, a hefeweizen, a porter, a honey blonde, and IPA, and a red ale.  While we enjoyed the DBA, Solace, and the honey blonde, the rest were average to a bit heavy for us.

So we're kind of indifferent to Firestone Walker. The beers in Denver were much better as was Sierra Nevada up north in Chico, which also serves a vast variety of tastes at no charge...but wait...what's that across the street?

Watch the video above as we find a very nice ringer, right across the street from the FW premises.



Cheers!

-Darryl